Was Chicago Bears spending at linebacker justified?

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears surprised many when they ended up spending more than expected on linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. The early assumption was that after trading Roquan Smith, they would save money at linebacker, and spend elsewhere.

Should Chicago Bears have spent on linebacker in free agency?

When they signed T.J. Edwards to a team-friendly deal that felt like the end of that. However, when they spent big on Tremaine Edmunds, it brought up questions. Why trade Smith just to pay Edmunds? Was this spending justified?

The obvious factor is that the Bears added a second-round pick. So, a second-round pick, plus Tremaine Edmunds for Roquan Smith makes sense. Beyond that, Edwards is set to make $6.5M per year and Edmunds is set to make $18M per year. They make a combined $24.5M, and Smith makes $20M per year.

So, they spent $4.5M more to have two positions filled, and they added the second-round pick. Beyond that, when you look into the guarantees, Smith essentially got a 3-year deal for $60M, and Edmunds got 3 years for $57M.

Still, while you can say that the move is savvy, and was smarter than paying Smith and not getting the pick, or adding Edwards, the question is whether they could have, or should have done something different with that salary space.

Mike McGlinchey signed a deal that is effectively 3 years, and $52M. He is making $17.5M per year, a bit less than Edmunds, and his guarantees are $35M, while Edmunds saw $50 in guarantees. It is clear that if they wanted to spend up and give McGlinchey the Edmunds deal, they could have.

They had even less interest in Kaleb McGary who signed a three-year, $34M deal with just $15M in guarantees. Beyond that, Dre'Mont Jones signed a three-year, $51M deal with $17.1M per, and Zach Allen signed a three-year for $45.7M.

So, the thought that Ryan Poles did not pay Roquan Smith because he values the trenches more than linebackers is wrong. Poles pays players what he thinks they are worth. He thought that a second-round pick and a chance to pay Edmunds a bit less than Smith was worth it.

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He thought that Edmunds, despite having less positional value than McGlinchey was a better bet to make in free agency, despite the nearly identical costs. A lot of people would probably agree that Edmunds is the safer bet to be good on his second deal. However, most of the same people would understand paying McGlinchey the same deal because it is harder to find replacements for right tackles than it is to find linebacker help.

This will be something we have to consider moving forward.